Capturing Quarantine Oral Histories
Interview with Alex Schmelter



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Alex Schmelter was born in Lake Forest, Illinois to George Schmelter from Indiana, and Illinois native Kristin MacMurray. Schmelter was raised in Lake Villa, Illinois and was educated at Grayslake North High School. Alex spent summers working at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois and at an Amazon delivery facility. In 2017 Schmelter had an internship at Shalom Television working as a PA/stagehand that offered a valuable experience that now helps him on film sets at Columbia College. Schmelter spent several years volunteering for the St. Vincent DePaul Society at Prince of Peace Catholic Church helping with home visits, food trucks, food pantries. Schmelter also spent a summer assisting in Praying Pelican Missions in Puerto Rico hurricane relief in 2018. This work consisted of building houses, facilities for other volunteers, and helping rebuild and clean other devastated areas. Alex came to Columbia College Chicago in 2018 to study film, but a passion for literature, inspired by former high school teachers as well as his sister, led Schmelter to change his major. He now studies English at Columbia College Chicago and is expected to graduate in 2022.

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Columbia College Chicago




communication, film, literature, English, internships, volunteer, misinformation, COVID-19, pandemic, Chicago, Illinois, United States, coronavirus

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


Arts and Humanities | Education | History | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology


Alex Schmelter, a sophomore English major at Columbia College Chicago, recalls his high school and early college experiences preceding quarantine, self-isolation, and social distancing due to the COVID-19 outbreak and pandemic. He also details his creative influences, experiences in high school theatre, and workshopping with a Broadway actor for a role. Alex elaborates on his first year at Columbia, meeting his lifelong friends, and his experience on film sets. He then details how the negative aspects of that experience inspired him to switch majors and career paths from film making to English literature. Alex recounts his initial reaction to COVID-19 and its subsequent effects on his situation and those he is closest to. He also speaks of the relatively smooth transition moving back home and moving schooling to online learning. Alex remarks on the struggles of social distancing and isolation, being someone that relies more heavily on face to face interaction than on texting and virtual socialization. The aspect of seeing strangers on the street was an aspect of life that was taken for granted.

Alex shares how he feels we can learn from our experiences living during a pandemic during these unprecedented and life changing times with the “hope it teaches something about misinformation” and preparation. He also goes on to describe his feelings toward the ambiguity of these new living circumstances, his hope for future aspirations, and on how future generations will remember this time.

Conducted in spring 2020 by an Oral History: The Art of the Interview student, this interview with a fellow student in the class reflects on the pandemic and how it impacted their life. The interview is conducted based on the life history approach to oral history.

Interview with Alex Schmelter